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Reviews For: Degen DE1103

Category: Receivers: General Coverage

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Review Summary For : Degen DE1103
Reviews: 74MSRP: 54.90
A world band radio: 100-29000 KHz AM + SSB + stereo FM. Two IF bandwidths.
Product is in production
More Info: http://
# last 180 days Avg. Rating last 180 days Total reviews Avg. overall rating
F6GYY Rating: 2017-11-26
Deceiving Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
The last in my collection.
Very sensitive on FM with good sound...

A nightmare on AM... Synthesizer spurious and audio not very clear... The BFO is not easy to adjust...

Miles away from my Tecsun PL-880...having a good fine tuning and a very good audio. Has firmware 8820...

Sensitivity is not everything... External antenna is used on the 880 even on LW and MW...
KE8WO Rating: 2017-03-12
Very Good Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I've owned & used an early model of the DE1103 and it is as others have reviewed it here: a very good medium sized general coverage receiver. I've had mine for probably 8 years (or more).

But a note of caution for people looking to buy the newer model (newer from about 2015). The newer models use the more modern 'DSP' based technology. This offers advantages but also some disadvantages. Reports are that the new model is a step backwards in performance compared to the original 1103. So do check that out first!
KD4EG Rating: 2015-06-14
Watch out Front End Blows Easy! Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I owned two of these radios. Both front end FET blew due to static discharge in winter Months in Virginia. This caused poor performance on SW bands. FB receiver and AM continues to be excellent. But after having two that failed for the same reason I would not recommend as a buy. If it weren't for lack of protection in the front end I would have given it a 4.
PY5WHO Rating: 2013-12-04
Great buy!! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Most of what has been described about the DE1103 on eham is accurate. I used three radio receivers as a basis for comparison,i.e. an old Brazilian analogue radio receiver that is a bit big for a portable radio and perfect as a tabletop, the Motoradio PR-M62; the SONY ICF-SW7600G and my tabletop receiver Realistic DX-440.

1. Sound quality is not DE1103's forte, so it is not a surprise the Motoradio RP-M62 better performance in this regard. Also, RP-M62's AGC is not as agressive as is on more modern models, and in some cases it keeps noise floor very low and increases audio quality immensely. As for as sensitivity, selectivity, spurious and image rejection, the DE1103 exceeds a great deal.

2. I only believed the DE1103 was more sensitive than my old SW7600G after testing and verifying it myself. With its whip antenna, the difference is not difficult to notice. But it is when connected to an external antenna the DE1103's performance is much better compared to SW7600G's. When listening with its built in speaker, sound quality is more or less the same as the 7600G, but when using earphones the 7600G sounds much better. The DE1103 sounds dull and in some occasions not clear. So much so, I had to find a pair of headphones that matched it better.

3. As for sound quality, Realistic DX-440 far exceeds. It even has bass and treble controls and a very good speaker. When you listen to it with earphones, it sounds even better. I only use the DX-440 connected to an external antenna, and to my surprise DE1103's performance is way better, with lower floor noise and better sensitivity. As for selectivity, the old DX-440 is still my favorite(even better than 7600G's).

You can buy a DE1103 for $48 dollars, which makes it a great purchase. Right now, it is my best portable and tabletop transistor receiver. But not for long, for I am planning to buy a Sangean ATS-909x as my new tabletop receiver.

For VHF, UHF, air, public services, etc. I use an ICOM IC-R5, which I do not plan replacing at all.
PA3GQD Rating: 2013-05-04
nice toy! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
Just got my DE 1103 an hour ago and I'm very surprised at how much fun this small guy is. It shouldn't get the full five point because it has its flaws but at this price you realy cannot complain. The only real issue is the hand capacity instability which is a nuicance in SSB. Should be cured by some screening. Another thing is, it has a rattle inside. I guess its got beaten up on the way here. It will anyhow have to be opened to see what's inside. Will do another review after using it for some time.
PU2NBU Rating: 2012-07-23
Best portable ever! Part 2 Time Owned: more than 12 months.
Just an update, after 3 years with this powerfull little guy, it is being my trip partner to Italy, UK, France, Spain and Chile, still operating flawless, looking like a new one. It helps me a lot to spend those tedious hours between airports and inside hotel rooms !
26JLH Rating: 2012-06-21
good and very useful Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
good works well but suffers a bit of hand capcity ie gets louder when you touch it.
works ok for ssb thats what i got it for being a radio ham looks to be made well so i am happy.

tnx jeffrey 2e0glu
VK7ZJA Rating: 2012-06-02
Great little portable, senstational value Time Owned: more than 12 months.
The bang-for-buck factor on this little portable is truly off the scale! For what you pay, you get a receiver that genuinely exceeds expectations in regards to how well it receives signals.
This thing is highly sensitive on HF and darn good on AM and FM BCB too. Sound quality is good. But I think its the low noise floor of this receiver that really makes this receiver shine.
This is my reference for all portable radios against which I compare performance with.
Ergonomics: not great, but after some time you get used to it... well I did anyway.
The only problems I've had with this is that I managed to break some wires on the rotary encoder from taking the case apart one to many times while fitting mods (IF stage shielding, experimenting with different filters etc). Otherwise, its been in the car with me all over the countryside, tossed in the overnight bag into a light aircraft, and never missed a beat for over two years. Reliable - most definitely!
Sure, it doesn't receive as well as my full size ham rigs, but then it only cost one fifteenth of what I paid for them... and offers tremendous performance for the price. A fantastic, fun little receiver with outstanding value overall.
GW6ITJ Rating: 2011-05-16
Amazing Rx for the price! Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
My requirements were for a small HF SSB/CW receiver to replace a less than useful ATS-505, it had to be sensitive, selective. Low cost was required (as always) with ease of operation and a good pedigree.

With a wealth of reviews, user groups, YouTube videos available I plumped for the 1103. The price was £32 with £14 P&P direct from China (ebay seller tquchina) and the delivery in 7 days.

On arrival I was surprised at just how small this radio is, truly portable. It comes with mains adaptor, 4 rechargeable batteries, soft pouch type case, longwire plug in aerial, headphones with volume control, carry strap and english manual. With all those accessories at normal UK prices they would constitute half the price of the radio!

Audio quality is excellent. I hate any form of hiss in the audio sections and this radio has non. FM reception is far better than I have heard for a long time and is stereo with headphones. The speaker volume is more than adequate with 65 levels and I have mine set no higher than level 12, at high volumes there is some distortion but my ears hurt by then.

A lot has been written about the volume control not being seperate (you push a button and the tuning dial then control the volume) but I like it, its simple, the AGC kleeps the volume reasonable steady so lots of adustment is not necessary. One thing I like about it is that you benfit of using the large tuning dial rather than a fiddly recessed control.

On MW I can receive all the stations I require, I'm not into MW DX so a good range of UK stations during the day and european at night is the extent of my measurements of sensitivity. Again audio quality is great and selectivity very good.

On shortwave I like to listen to AM/SSB and CW. The radio is very sensitive with only faint DX being missed but I didn't buy it for picking out stations in the noise! SSB is easily resolved as is CW and the narrow filter setting really does work well in seperating

the signals, I have not been dissappointed as it is about as wide as my IC-718 with the stock filters (possibly better).

Frequency entry is easy, OK it's not the traditional telphone type keypad but I really like it. Enter the frequency and press BAND+ for 100kHz - 30MHz or BAND- for 76MHz - 108MHZ.

Memories (268) store the frequency and mode. Numbering is hexadecimal but 1-100 can be used. Setting them is very easy but I have overwritten a couple by mistake, finger trouble.

Time, Alarm, Snooze are all intuitive.

The light is very nice. I often listen at night (XYL permitting) and the light works well, switching on when a button is pressed or the tune dial turned, then switching off after approx. 3 seconds (it can be on permanently if mains powered).

The radio has a built in battery recharger which will be very handy but I've yet to use it.

The current set of batteries have lasted a week with 2-3 hours use a day so about 20+ hours using a mixture of speaker and headphones and still going strong so I'm quite happy there.

I like the pseudo Analogue display, takes me back to an old Philco receiver. Shame it doesn't cover all the HF bands in continuous sections but that's not an issue for me.

Cons: Well for under £50 delivered with all the accessories and its great performace I can't think of a single thing.

Well done Degen, a little gem of a receiver that will be getting a lot of use.
HFHAM2 Rating: 2011-05-07
Encoder problems Time Owned: more than 12 months.
I never really took to this radio despite it being a good performer (for a small portable).

Regarding the faux analog dial, I kinda like it and don't mind the odd volume control either. I think some people make far too big of a deal about these features. The loose-feeling controls make it feel cheap though (which it is).

Yes, this radio was a big leap forward in terms of performance per dollar, but after a year or so of very occasional use, the encoder started playing up. If you try to tune it, the displayed frequency goes backwards or jumps around making it nigh-on impossible to manually band-scan. Consequently, I just don't use the radio any more. I've also read about others having the same problem on this and other Chinese portables.

If your trying to make a purchasing decision regarding a portable shortwave radio, I would strongly recommend paying the extra bucks and getting the Sony ICF-SW7600GR instead of this. I owned the predecessor ICF-SW7600 and ICF-SW7600G. The DE-1103 certainly sounds nicer through the built-in speaker than the Sony, but the Sonys are much better built, have a pretty good implementation of selectable-sideband synchronous detection and last much longer than these Chinese made radios in my experience.